The vast majority of Colorado workers who are injured on the job can receive financial benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
With a few narrow exceptions, all employers in Colorado with at least 1 employee are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
But what happens if your employer attempts to skirt the system and neglects to purchase workers’ compensation insurance?
In the past, injured workers whose employers didn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance were often stuck with the bill for their medical expenses.
However, a new program in Colorado will attempt to cover all medical expenses for people who get hurt while working for a company that doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Let’s take a closer look at the program and how you can apply.
What is the Colorado Uninsured Employer Fund?
The Colorado Uninsured Employer (CUE) Fund is designed to pay medical bills for injured workers whose employers failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The fund, which is administered by an independent board appointed by the Colorado governor, was approved by lawmakers in 2017 and opened for claims on January 1, 2020.
"This really was the most significant reform in worker's compensation in the past, gosh, 30 years now," said Jackleen Jackson at the state's Division of Workers' Compensation.
Colorado will continue to fine employers who fail to obtain workers’ compensation coverage. The money collected from these fines is added to the CUE Fund.
Who is eligible for payments through the CUE Fund?
To be eligible for compensation through the CUE Fund, you must meet 3 requirements:
- Your injury occurred on or after January 1, 2020;
- You were injured while working as an employee for an uninsured employer (You can find out whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance here.); and
- You have a final order from a judge finding that you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
How can injured workers apply for compensation from the CUE Fund?
Applying for compensation through the CUE Fund is pretty straightforward. Here are the steps:
- File a workers’ compensation claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Keep in mind that, in most cases, you only have 4 working days to report your injury to your employer in order to start the workers’ compensation claims process.
- Have your claim accepted. Once your employer files the required forms with the workers’ compensation insurer, the insurer has 20 days to accept or deny your claim. If your claim is denied, you can work with a workers’ compensation attorney to appeal the decision.
- File an application to the CUE Fund. You can download a copy of the application from the Division of Workers’ Compensation here. Once the application is completed, mail the application (along with a copy of the judge’s final workers’ compensation order) to the Division of Workers’ Compensation, 633 17th St., Suite 400, Denver, CO 80202-3626.
What information will I need to fill out the CUE Fund application?
Before you sit down to fill out the application to the CUE Fund, make sure you have the following information on hand:
- Your workers’ compensation number
- Your contact information
- Your date of birth
- Employer name, address and contact information
- Medical information related to your injury (bills, doctor contact info, etc.)
What compensation can I receive?
If your claim is approved, you’ll be contacted by a claims adjuster to discuss your claim. At that point, you’ll be told what benefits you will receive.
As of 2022, the CUE Fund can only pay medical expenses and funeral costs. As the CUE Fund grows, the board hopes to be able to expand to other benefits, including:
- Temporary disability payments
- Permanent disability payments
- Death benefits
- Disfigurement benefits
Your employer will be on the hook for any benefits not paid by the CUE Fund. Unfortunately, collecting these benefits is often a challenge that requires legal help.
What can be done if your CUE Fund claim is denied?
If you’re not eligible for CUE Funds, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits (assuming your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance).
If you’re not able to receive CUE Funds or workers’ compensation benefits, there may still be options to receive compensation. For example, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or a 3rd party.
It’s a good idea to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney before giving up hope. Most initial consultations are free, and the attorney will be able to review your case and explain all of your legal options.